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2003 Wrapups: Houston Astros

With the 2003 minor league season coming to a close, we will be providing a brief wrapup of the season for all 30 minor league teams. In each report, we will take a look at how the team's Top 10 Prospects performed, identify some emerging prospects and organizational leaders, and report on the performance of their top draft pick.
Complete index of Team Wrapups               2003 League Wrapups

By Kevin Goldstein
October 8, 2003

Season Results

Level Team League W L PCT
AAA New Orleans Pacific Coast 71 73 .514
AA Round Rock Texas 46 94 .580
A+ Salem Carolina 73 65 .551
A Lexington South Atlantic 75 63 .493
SS Tri-City New York-Penn 43 32 .301
R Martinsville Appalachian 42 23 .448
TOTAL 350 350 ..500


Performance of Top 10 Prospects

Here's how our top 10 prospects entering this season performed in 2003.

1. John Buck, c      Age: 23
Buck struggled significantly at the plate in his Triple-A debut, and it can't be blamed on the pitcher-friendly home field as he hit .240-2-23 on the road. Missed most of July and August with a broken hand, and was just 1-for-15 in the final nine games after his return. Will try to get back on track this winter in the Dominican Republic.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
New Orleans (Triple-A) 78 274 32 70 18 2 2 39 14 53 1 .255 .301 .358

2. Jason Lane, of      Age: 26
Craig Biggio's switch to center field meant another year at Triple-A for Lane, who once again performed admirably despite being hampered by an abdominal strain. Spent the last six weeks of the season with the Astros, highlighted by a two-homer game on Sept. 23. Turns 27 in December, and may need a change of scenery to get his shot. Will undergo minor offseason surgery for a sports hernia.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
New Orleans (Triple-A) 71 248 37 74 17 0 7 39 30 26 2 .298 .374 .452
Astros (MLB) 18 27 5 8 2 0 4 10 0 2 0 .296 .296 .815

3. Brad Lidge, rhp      Age: 26
Finally healthy, Lidge served a prominent role in one of baseball's best bullpens, but he faltered heavily down the stretch, allowing a 6.65 ERA and five home runs over 23 innings in the final two months of the season.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Astros (MLB) 6-3 1 3.60 78 85.0 60 36 34 42 97

4. Jimmy Barrett, rhp      Age: 22
Barrett was pounded for the first three months of the season, sitting at 2-7, 6.81 on July 1. He found his groove toward the end of the season, and allowed just three earned runs over his final 25 innings to bring his final ERA to a reasonable level.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Salem (High Class A) 7-10 0 5.33 26 138.1 160 87 82 56 75

5. Chris Burke, 2b/ss      Age: 23
2001 first-round pick repeated Double-A and improved his numbers across the board while leading the organization in stolen bases. Walk rate increased throughout the season.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Round Rock (Double-A) 137 549 88 165 23 8 3 41 57 57 34 .301 .379 .388

6. Tommy Whiteman, ss      Age: 24
Whiteman started the 2002 season at Round Rock, but was demoted to Salem after hitting .179 in 15 games. While he lasted the year in Double-A this time around, his production steadily dropped throughout the season, and he hit just .221-1-17 in his final 50 games.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Round Rock (Double-A) 133 532 65 139 18 2 13 70 35 102 3 .261 .310 .376

7. Rodrigo Rosario, rhp      Age: 25
Rodriguez got off to a fine start at Triple-A, earning a midseason callup. Won his major league debut on June 21 with six solid innings versus Texas, but lasted just two innings in his second start before being forced to leave with shoulder stiffness. It turned out to be Rosario's final outing of the season, as MRIs revealed a rotator-cuff tear that required surgery.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
New Orleans (Triple-A) 5-7 0 4.03 15 87.0 71 40 39 32 68
Astros (MLB) 1-0 0 1.13 2 8.0 5 2 1 3 6

8. Hector Gimenez, c      Age: 21
Defensive whiz failed to build on his power numbers from 2002, when he hit 11 home runs in 297 at-bats. Still showed top-notch skills behind the plate, but failed to go deep in his final 158 at-bats.
TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Salem (High Class A) 109 381 41 94 17 1 7 54 29 75 2 .247 .304 .352

9. Chad Qualls, rhp      Age: 25
Like Burke, Qualls repeated at Double-A not because of his play, but because of Houston's lack of a High A franchise in 2002. While his numbers are very similar to 2002's, he was one of the best pitchers in the Texas League over the final two months, going 5-2, 1.93 over his last 11 starts, including a pair of nine-inning shutouts with 10+ strikeouts.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Round Rock (Double-A) 8-11 0 3.85 28 175.1 174 85 75 61 132

10. Santiago Ramirez, rhp      Age: 25
Shoulder and forearm problems limited Ramirez to just 17 innings on the season, and when he was healthy, he couldn't throw strikes.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
New Orleans (Triple-A) 4-0 0 4.26 10 12.2 7 7 6 9 9
Round Rock (Double-A) 0-0 1 0.00 6 4.2 5 0 0 4 3


Top Draft Pick:

Jason Hirsh, rhp    California Lutheran U.   Bonus: $625K
The signing of Jeff Kent left the Astros without a first-round pick, and they tabbed the giant righty (6-8, 250) with their second-round selection. Was fantastic at Tri-City, as all seven of his earned runs were given up in one poor outing. In his other nine games, he allowed just 14 hits over 30 innings without giving up an earned run.
Team W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
Tri-City (Short Season) 3-1 0 1.95 10 32.1 22 10 7 7 33


Emerging Prospects:

Jared Gothreaux, rhp: A 16th round pick in 2002, Gothreaux started the season in the Salem bullpen, but moved into the rotation in late April and showed continuous improvement throughout the year. 7-2, 2.62 over his final 10 starts, highlighted by a three-hit complete game shutout on August 9.
Fernando Nieve, rhp: Venezuelan righty went 14-6, 3.65 in his full-season debut while striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Henri Stanley, of: Undrafted out of college, Stanley continues his steady progress towards the majors. Put together a solid year at New Orleans, and hit .328-9-33 in 68 games away from pitching-friendly Zephyr Field.


Statistical Leaders

Batting Average Colin Porter .320
Home Runs John Fagan 18
Runs Batted In T.J. Soto 82
Stolen Bases Chris Burke 34
Earned Run Average Chris Sampson 1.90
Wins Fernando Nieve 14
Strikeouts D.J. Houlton 149
Saves Juan Campos 24

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